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Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition Review (PC)

Game Review: Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition
Release: October 28, 2010
Genre: Fantasy, Strategy, Sports
Developer: Cyanide
Available Platforms: PC
Players: 1-2 players
MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: 16+
Website: http://www.bloodbowl-game.com

Taking a successful turn based board game and turning it into a decent video game was the task taken on by the developers, Cyanide. The original version released in 2009 was heavily criticized for a number of reasons, some of which were patched but Cyanide went away and spent most of a year polishing their product.  The clue is in the game title that this is not your run of the mill, standard game, the Legendary tag is the hint you needed to know that this version adds more features to a previously released version.  Are the improvements enough to warrant a purchase or should it have simply been released as a patch or expansion pack?

While waiting for the game to download and install, this reviewer decided to use the time to read up on what exactly Blood Bowl is.  So if you are not familiar with it, here is a brief summary:

  • Blood Bowl is a two-player, turn-based board game, loosely based on American football, Rugby with plenty of fantasy violence thrown in for good measure.
  • Teams are made up of 16 players, while 11 can take to the field at any one time.
  • Each team is made up of a single race e.g. Elves, Dwarks or Orcs.  The abilities of the teams are determined mostly by the race chosen, for examples Elves are generally agile while Orcs will battle through the game.
  • Rules of the game are based on The Living Rulebook with the most recent version being v6.

The main additions to this version that make it Legendary are that 12 more races have been added in addition to the 8 from the original release, taking the total number of races to choose from up to 20. A tutorial has been added which was missing from the original release and is essential for any newcomers (read this reviewer) to the world of Blood Bowl.  There is also the addition of a Story Mode where the player takes on the role of  freelance coach to lead teams through set challenges.  These challenges add an extra layer to each match and are usually violence related. The latest Living Rulebook rule changes have also been included to bring the video game in line with official board game rules.

All set to begin, brushed up on some Blood Bowl history, race chosen and fingers at the ready, this reviewer was eager to dip his toe into the sports world of Blood Bowl.  Initial impressions were not good at all, the game is actually very complex and could scare newcomers away as they get frustrated.  It’s a strategy game as it’s core.  The process of moving the ball around the pitch and trying to score is a distant second place to dishing out damage to your opponents and making sure that they don’t take your players out of the action first.  Of course being turn based means the action does not ebb an flow like the latest version of Madden.  To combat this, there is the addition of a real time game mode which is a waste of a players time.  The game is obviously meant to be turn based so don’t insult it by choosing Blitz mode.  Back to the traditional turn based mode, significant time has to be invested into learning the ropes and getting familiar with the abilities of each of your players, while recognizing the threats that the opposing race possess.  Each team has 16 turns and each turn ends when all moves are made, the coach decides the turn is over or if there is a turnover.

Often when playing a new sports game, you can learn a lot from the opposing AI as they continuously destroy you in the first couple of matches but Blood Bowl is slightly different as the AI seemed as lost as I was at times.  Reading reviews on the first Blood Bowl release, the incompetent AI was one of the major criticisms and I have to admit all the problems do not appear to have been ironed out in time for the Legendary Edition.  Part of this could be attributed to the additional new teams and the inclusion of updated rules but at times the opposing AI just seemed to waste its turn.

There are several offline modes to hone your skills before taking your game online; Exhibition Matches, Campaign, Competition or Story modes.  Either of these modes are fine for getting used to the mechanics and strategic nature of the game but will soon become boring thanks to the AI.  To really experience Blood Bowl you need to jump into some online multiplayer.

Online multiplayer modes are similar to the offline ones, you can choose campaigns or competitions or you can join an online league or tournament.  The matchmaking is slightly confusing at first and this reviewer recommends playing against friends as I experienced far too frequent rage quits from opposing players when they were losing.

Graphically Blood Bowl will not be winning any prizes for its eye candy.  The character models are fine but nothing more, close up cinematics really highlight the lack of detail at times but on the other hand, having graphics which are not too demanding brings laptop play into the equation.  The variety in the stadiums is well thought out and generally the graphics are fit for purpose.  The commentary can really start to grind after a while and the game actually would be far more enjoyable without it.

Those who bought the first Blood Bowl will be disappointed to learn that the Legendary Edition is not backward compatible and you’ll need to purchase the Legendary Edition just to play.  Thankfully there is a 30% online discount for those who registered the original Blood Bowl.

Mark’s final say: A week ago I had no idea what Blood Bowl was and with a week of gameplay behind me I know I’ve still only scratched the surface.  This digital version of the successful board game appears to be a faithful representation and experienced players will enjoy the online playing options.  Newcomers to the Blood Bowl universe, be warned, this is not a pick up and play game. Be prepared to invest a lot of time to learn the ropes before hoping to be successful in multiplayer and the bottom line is that to enjoy this game you need to take it online. (with friends)

Minimum System Requirements
  • OS Windows XP SP2 / VISTA SP1 / 7
  • Processor Pentium 4 2,4GHz / AthlonXP 2400+ or higher
  • RAM Memory 1 Go (XP) / 2 Go (Vista, 7)
  • 3D Graphics Card 128MB, DirectX 9.0 and Shaders 2.0 100% compatible (Nvidia GeForce 6600 / ATI Radeon X700 or higher)*
  • DVD-ROM 2X Drive
  • Hard disk space 5 GB
  • Sound Card DirectX 9.0 compatible
Internet connection required for online game

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